Today I needed something to get the kids excited, so my class bear disappeared again. He does this now and then and usually leaves a letter with hints as to his whereabouts, but this time I tried something a bit different. I came up with a sentence that had exactly 26 characters, then wrote out the sentence letter by letter on colorful cards. On the back of each card I wrote a name and a math problem to solve, tailored to that specific child’s ability level, with the answers in order from 1 to 26. Then I put the cards in a little clear box and set the box on the bear’s desk, with a “Do not open until after lunch” note.
The kids were WILD to open that box! Once I did, I was just terribly confused about the cards inside…what could they mean? Well, they had names on them….the kids couldn’t wait to get their own card. Then we brainstormed. The first idea was that the cards were the alphabet and should go in order. So we tried this but almost immediately everyone realized that we were missing some letters and had doubles of others. That wasn’t it!
Next, the students decided that the letters must make words, so we spent a few minutes trying to rearrange our letters. Some groups came up with several words but nothing that told us where the bear went. Hmmm.
Just when I was about to hint that hey, there are MATH problems on the cards, maybe that had something to do with it, one student suddenly shrieked out that HIS math problem’s answer was 12, his friend’s was 13, and another friend’s was 14… quick everyone, solve your math problem!
They were thrilled, just thrilled, when we got the letters in order by number and it made a sentence! Leo the bear was in the office! We marched down there and the kind secretaries returned him (apparently he had been most helpful all morning).
Once we returned to the room, the students spent the rest of math time creating their own codes, and boy did some of them come up with some pretty complicated equations. This was so much fun, and just what I needed today…I was so pleased with their problem-solving, and I can’t wait to do it again with a different code!
Todd Parr-style portraits! This was a big hit.
Aliens Love Underpants! Oh, how first graders love this book. We read the book and made a web of descriptive words for the aliens, and I gave them three choices of writing prompts on underpants-shaped paper. Two of the choices were actually prompts, ‘If I met an alien, I…’ and ‘What do the aliens do with the underpants?’ and the third was for my lower students: ‘Aliens are _______!’ I let them choose their prompt, and as usual I was pleasantly surprised by a few very low students choosing a more challenging option. After the writing was done, they got to create their aliens to wear the underpants writing, and the aliens went up on the board.
In the afternoon, I first used the now-completed aliens for math. We compared alien eyes, colors, smiles, all sorts of things. Then students got to choose one type of underpants (boxers, briefs, bloomers) and we filled in a “somebody/wanted/then/so” story map on the back, then they got to color the fronts. I strung a “clothesline” across the room and hung them up as students finished, and there was much giggling! It was such a fun day.
This year, I have my entire class doing Passport Club. So I’ve incorporated map skills into our morning meeting routine with a “pointer flag” I made from some clear plastic and a yardstick (okay, so a regular pointer would work just as well, but it wouldn’t be as much fun, right?). I also made a “passport club center” with placemat-type maps, small pointer flags made from more plastic and rulers, a globe, and some atlas books. This month the goal is just to know the continents (at level 1 anyway…I’m only doing level 1 goals in class, and students are welcome to study for higher levels at home). Last, I put continent cards into a big die so students can test themselves (and oh boy, they love it). I want to add more to the center, like a world map floor puzzle, and I’m not sure what else, yet!
Talk Like a Pirate Day was this past Friday, and boy I had fun with it, as usual! I wore my pirate hat all day and carried a miniature treasure chest filled with plastic pirate gold, which I handed out whenever I “caught” students being awesome. I put pirate pencils in every student’s pencil cup before school started. I taught them a game where if I ever said, “Ahoy mateys!” they all had to stop and respond, “Aye aye, captain!” and wait for further instructions. (Oh, they were adorable.) We even made “hook hands” out of paper cups and pipe cleaners.
We made our pirate glyph, a bit changed from last year but basically the same. But this year, instead of making it a writing project (writing a talking bubble with something a pirate would say), I made it our math workshop that day. We got the pirates done in the morning, I got them up on the wall during lunch, and in the afternoon we were able to count and compare/contrast. The students really got into it, using their mini white boards to make tally marks and such. We then recorded some of our findings.
It was such a fun day!
I got tired of my school-issued, same-as-everyone-else’s stapler being stolen. (“Oh, is this yours? Ha ha ha, they all look the same so I thought it was mine!”)
Look at my new stapler. It is GOLD. Sooooo shiny! Nobody can ever claim now that they “thought it was theirs”!
Now I want to staple ALL the things!